Anyone out there get into medical school WITHOUT doing a post-bacc?

Hi, everyone:

I’m new to the premed scene. I LOVE this group–I’ve been devouring your discussions for the past couple of weeks.

I have a question: I just graduated from a graduate program in environmental science with a 3.89. I’m working and going to school part-time. (I’m taking Genetics this quarter, and probably Physiology and Gen Chem I next quarter.)

I know there’s been a lot of talk about informal vs post-bacc programs. I’ve read most of those threads, but I’d love to hear some anecdotal evidence from the folks who got into medical school–anyone out there take classes piecemeal and still get into medical school? Even better, get into med school with some funding? Even BETTER, get into a UC med school? (I’m in Cali.)

I’m not sure that I necessarily want to shell out the dough (or give up my income or great internship in a nearby hospital)–all of which would be necessary if I enrolled in a formal post-bacc program.

I had a 3.2 in undergrad (which was a looooooooooong time ago–I graduated in 95) but some pretty dismal science grades…a C in Orgo I (which I brought up to a B the next semester) and a D+ in Phys II (which came down from a B in Phys I–I just never understood the electrical stuff). I’m a different person academically than I was back then, though–I know enough to go to office hours and beg for help when I’m struggling.

So–any edifying stories from the people with acceptance (or rejection) letters?

Thanks again for your input–and (again) for the existence of this site!

By the way, I am so sad about this “no community college classes” rule. Classes at UC schools are EXPENSIVE next to the local cc. Ah well.

Welcome, Violet :).

I’ve not yet been accepted, but I’m taking courses piecemeal, and it’s worked out well for me. Amy, who posts as “Emergency!,” is another proponent of the informal approach; she’s currently an MS1 at Ohio State.

Many of us have academic skeltons of one kind or another. Yours sound like they’re certainly overcomeable (er… I suspect that’s not a real word, but you know what I mean ).

I wouldn’t call “no CCs” a rule, per se; just a recommendation for the optimal path. I think that path is different, in Cali, though - aren’t students generally required to take basic sci at CCs prior to attending a University? I’m not sure if that’s the case for post-bacc students… I’m sure others around here will have better information.

Again, welcome, and enjoy the ride!

Actually I think Amy’s more like MS3 or 4. I would recommend going to a 4-year university if possible, but in any case focus on doing extremely well on the MCAT. It doesn’t matter whether you go through a formal program or a self-created program. You might get a bit more hand-holding in a formal postbacc but the education shouldn’t be any different, and medical schools don’t seem to care. They do, however, like to get committee letters of rec, and so you might try to go to a school that has those. Best of luck,

I took classes one or two at a time at a university while working and was admitted to med school early decision and with individual, not committee, letters. I do not have financial aid other than student loans, but my school doesn’t offer a whole lot and what they do offer is based on financial need. I still have an appreciable Expected Family Contribution on my FAFSA, so that’s not happening for me.

Before we bounce poor Amy (Emergency!) around too much, she has completed MS2 and is in an MD/MPH program; I think she is focusing on MPH studies this year before going on to MS3 next year. I may not have the details right but I know she just passed Step 1 so she has definitely finished her first two years of med school.

I’m another informal post-bac proponent. I did mine at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. At the time, their pre-med committee had specific requirements for those who weren’t regular undergrads if they wanted a committee letter: 30 credits, LORs from 2 science profs and 1 non-science prof (I substituted letters from supervisors/board members at the small non-profit I was working for at the time), and cut-offs on GPA and MCAT (I think 3.6 and 26, but don’t quote me). It worked fine for me.


Thanks to everyone for your replies! Ooooh, boy, there is a lot of bureaucratic B.S. involved in this process, isn’t there? (I think all the jumping through hoops was one of the reasons I rebelled against the idea oh so many moons ago.) But now that I know I really want this, I somehow seem to be able to stomach it more. Just grit my teeth and keep on trucking.

I do keep hearing about this “committee letter” thing. I’m not sure whether UCSB (where I’m going to school) offers such a thing. I have not found anything about committee letters on the health professions web site. (I’ll give them a ring and find out more, of course.)

Is it REALLY that important or will 5-6 glowing letters from profs, employers, and mentors suffice?

Thanks everyone. And again, I’m loving the good vibes on this site. So much better than SDN.

Thank you, Mary, for clarifying my status. I attempted to answer this morning but was interrupted by a rather unhappy nine month old.

Anyways - post-baccs. I think it varies widely. There really aren’t a lot of formal programs to be had in certain areas of the country - a key reason why I never gave it serious consideration. There are advantages and disadvantages to both paths, but choosing to “do it yourself” is more than possible. I think most of the non-trads I know at OSU did post-baccs on their own.

Committee letters - you want a committee letter if the school you are doing your pre-reqs at offers that service. Adcoms are generally aware of which schools do committee letters and which ones don’t and it can be a red flag of sorts if someone chooses not use their school’s committee letter. If, on the other hand, your school doesn’t do committee letters, then don’t worry about it. A pre-med advisor at your school should be able to tell you the process they use.

Five or six letters is more than sufficient. Most schools will only want three letters or a committee letter. Some place no limit on the number of letters. Some will want only letters from profs - they typically want at least two science letters. I had five letters - four profs, one supervisor. I only submitted all five to one school.

Welcome, and good luck!


PS - the hoop jumping and BS only gets worse.

Sorry about the misinformation, Amy. If I get invited to interview, I’ll apologize in person!

Thanks to everyone for their advice and reassurances. There seem to be so many unspoken rules in this process that I’m getting a tad paranoid. I’m taking classes through UC extension, which means I bum rush class at the beginning of the quarter, take it with all the undergrads, but am not matriculated. I’m not sure if the pre-med folks will talk to me since I have such a limbo-like status, but it’s worth a shot. It’s weird to have such an uncertain status after spending two years of my life here as a grad student. Oh well.

Again, thanks.

It is all attitude… I notice you have quoted “Richard’s Rules”…

Rule 1 are you willing to do what you need to do in order to be a physician?.. only YOU can answer that one!

There are hoops to be sure… but HOW bad do you want to be a physician?

You might have to repeat stuff that is expired… HOW BAD do you want to be a PHYSICIAN?..

You see what I am getting at here… if you are UP FOR IT… the climb aboard! and enjoy the trip!


Hey, Richard.

Just read your “rules.” Great minds think alike…the hoops we be jumping.

Frankly, I think this whole process seems designed to drive all the trads into grade-crazed maniacs. Not the best way to foster curiosity, creativity, and actual learning among young people who haven’t yet learned that grades don’t define them. But can’t change things until you actually get into medical school, eh? So bring those hoops on.

  • violetny Said:
Thanks to everyone for your replies! Ooooh, boy, there is a lot of bureaucratic B.S. involved in this process, isn't there? (I think all the jumping through hoops was one of the reasons I rebelled against the idea oh so many moons ago.) But now that I know I really want this, I somehow seem to be able to stomach it more. Just grit my teeth and keep on trucking.

Hoop jumping - by the time you reach mine or Mary's level in this game, you will be so adept at clearing bars & jumping through hoops that you will not even notice them any longer. It simply becomes a way of life.


Nah… My experience is much different than the majority around here… I did my prerequisites a lot like traditional students… I went to a four year school (University of Kansas) for four years and got my first undergraduate degree.

The difference was that I was 38 instead of 18 when I started, my wife and kids “loaded in” from the beginning; they had gambled everything on ME (even when they never said a word, I could FEEL it)… that was the serious part. I should not have worried, I discovered I simply LOVED every minute of my “college experience” (it is HARD to do poorly with that mind set), it was like I had always imagined, I envied those who got to go when I was younger… I was always looking through the glass with admiration at college friends growing up!

So when my chance came I decided to make every second count and live, experience and “DO COLLEGE” like it ought to be!

Win lose or draw, I found myself richer in ways I could not have predicted! That is why no matter what advice I give here or elsewhere, I always add, “Remember to enjoy the trip”.